Is Beer Good for You?
Is there room for a pint of beer on The Paleo Diet® now and again? While beer is never Paleo, you can enjoy it in moderation as part of the 85/15 rule.
Why isn’t beer Paleo? The Encyclopedia Britannica defines beer as a fermented beverage of barley, hops, water, and yeast.1 Since barley is a grain, which falls outside of Paleo guidelines, then beer is technically off the table, too. Even gluten-free beers are grain-based, and grains contain anti-nutrients that can lead to leaky gut syndrome and other digestive issues.
Similarly, wine and mead are on the non-Paleo list as well. Wine often contains sulfites, an additive that can lead to stomach pain or even hives and wheezing. Mead, an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water, fruits, spices, grains, or hops, isn’t the most Paleo of beverages, either.
So, what can we drink then, aside from water on the rocks?
Better Alternatives to Beer
When you’re tempted to grab a frosty glass of beer, consider a few other healthier-for-you options instead. Also, remember to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated when you indulge in that rare libation!
Sulfite-Free Red Wine
While wine isn’t technically Paleo and you’d still need to consume it as part of your 85/15 rule, sulfite-free red wine is the best choice for when you are going to indulge in a glass. Unlike beer, red wine actually contains certain health benefits including high levels of heart-healthy resveratrol.
“Red wine is clearly the drink of choice if you are doing light to moderate drinking for your health, and daily consumption just before or with the evening meal may be the most protective pattern,” said Dr. James O’Keefe, MD, Chief of Preventive Cardiology at Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City.2 The key is to look for wines that are sulfite-free,3 and to keep it to a glass or two, rather than binging on boxed wine or drinking too close to bedtime.
Neat, grain-free spirits
Gin and tequila are the best grain-free spirit options as they are made with juniper berries and agave, respectively. Vodka is typically made out of grain or potatoes, but grape vodka would be a healthier alternative. Enjoy these beverages neat or on the rocks, just be sure they don’t contain any added sugars.
The best thing you can do is nix the alcohol altogether and mix up a hydrating, Paleo-friendly mocktail. You can make one with complex flavors like rosemary and grapefruit, or keep it as simple as twisting a lime slice into a glass of sparkling water. No shakers or bar equipment necessary!
The Bottom Line
Alcohol is still alcohol, and the less you drink, the better. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in the occasional celebratory glass of beer or wine.
On the days you know you’ll be drinking later, be sure to drink more water than usual, load up on the veggies, good fat, and protein. You’ll also want to cut back on fruit, since you’ll be getting enough simple carbohydrates from the alcohol later in the evening.
Finally, be sure to drink earlier in the night, and not right before bed. This will give you enough time to sober up before hitting the sack, and you’ll be more likely to get the restful sleep you’ll need for tomorrow.
- Young T. Beer | alcoholic beverage. In: Encyclopædia Britannica [Internet]. 2019. Available from: https://www.britannica.com/topic/beer
- Should I Drink Red Wine? [Internet]. Time. 2015 [cited 2023 Jun 9]. Available from: https://time.com/3734538/red-wine-health/
- OriginalPaleoDiet. The Paleo Diet, Alcohol Consumption and Sulfites in Wine, Beer, and Food [Internet]. The Paleo Diet®. 2014. Available from: https://thepaleodiet.com/paleo-diet-alcohol-consumption-sulfites-wine-beer-food/